8:20 AM PT -- Merriman is now acknowledging he was hospitalized, and tweeted that he was just "dehydrated" -- which might explain why he looked so sober and coherent in our video.
For a guy who was allegedly hospitalized at 9:30 pm Sunday night, retired NFL star Shawne Merriman appeared incredibly SOBER when TMZ shot him out just 3 hours later.
The whole situation is bizarre ... considering law enforcement has confirmed with NFL.com that the former NFL All-Pro was transported to an L.A. hospital for an undisclosed "medical emergency" around 9:30pm Sunday night.
In fact, law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... officials responded to a "possible overdose" at Colony nightclub with a caller reporting a man who was "barely conscious."
Sources tell us ... the 29-year-old former NFL All-Pro had been inside the club -- but was "escorted out" after people inside believed he appeared like he was going to pass out.
In short -- our sources are ADAMANT Merriman was hospitalized last night.
Which brings us to the video ...
Our TMZ photog noticed Merriman leaving Greystone Manor (a short cab ride from Colony) around 12:26 am on Monday morning ... and struck up a normal TMZ conversation with the guy.
In the footage, Merriman appears lucid, conversational ... and in no way like a person who was "barely conscious" just 3 hours before the video was shot.
At one point in the video, Merriman asks us "So, what's up?" Our guy responds, "Just livin'."
Merriman quickly jokes back, "Yeah, me too."
Plus, Merriman was tweeting around 2:40 am ... telling people he was partying with rapper The Game.
So, what REALLY happened Sunday night? Seems the jury is still out.